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Psalm 47 / 48
NIV Psalm 47 – Assembly
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.
5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as [with] the people of the God of Abraham, [Jews and Arabs]
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
Historical Parallel - November 29, 1947
This Psalm records the assembling of the nations together with the people of the God of Abraham (verse 9). History records that the United Nations formed the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in 1947, which was an inquiry committee formed to address the region of Palestine after the British Mandate was scheduled to end in May 1948. The UNSCOP ultimately drafted and approved Resolution 181, which was subsequently passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Resolution 181 proposed that Palestine be split into two areas – a Jewish state and an Arab state – and that the city of Jerusalem would be left as its own separate entity and would be governed by international rule. [i]
Historical Parallel - November 30, 1947
A day after Resolution 181 passed, the 1947–1949 Palestine war, known in Israel as the War of Independence, began. The Jewish authorities had accepted the Resolution 181 proposal; but the Arabs unanimously rejected it and immediately prepared for war. The British Empire withdrew from Mandatory Palestine on May 14, 1948 and as the last of their troops departed, the Jewish leaders in Palestine announced the establishment of the State of Israel. Fighting increased with the proclamation, but ultimately, the Jewish armies were successful in subduing the neighboring nations opposed to Israel’s existence (verse 3). [ii]
[i] “United Nations Resolution 181,” Britannica, accessed December 24, 2021, https://www.britannica.com/topic/United-Nations-Resolution-181
[ii] “1947 – 1949 Palestine War,” Wikipedia, last modified December 21, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947%E2%80%931949_Palestine_war
NIV Psalm 48 – Fulfillment
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
2 Beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.
4 When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,
5 they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labour. (Birth of Israel)
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind.
8 As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, go round her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, “Give them up!”
and to the south, “Do not hold them back.”
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth –
“And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar…”
Historical Parallel - May 14, 1948
May 14, 1948 is the State of Israel’s birthday. On this date, Israel declared independence and has been flourishing ever since. Even though the nation was never expected by the international community to survive longer than a few hours, against all odds, and, in spite of the fact that Israel is a tiny nation surrounded by enemies on all sides, Israel has thrived since her establishment.
In historical comparison, as this year is Israel's birthday, one would expect to find a reference in this Psalm to a birth. Not to disappoint, verse 6 contains the reference to a woman in labor, giving birth.
After Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, fighting broke out immediately. Arab forces joined with the Palestinian Arabs in an effort to regain control of the Palestinian territory. The invasion of Israel was spearheaded by Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. Even though they were outnumbered, Israeli forces were able to defeat the invasion and even gained some territory formerly granted to Palestinian Arabs under Resolution 181. Egypt retained the Gaza Strip and Jordan kept the West Bank until 1967. [i]
Zion is used in the Hebrew Bible as a synonym for Jerusalem as well as for the Land of Israel as a whole. In this Psalm, Zion (Israel and/or Jerusalem) is rejoicing over an event, that event seems to be the birth of Israel. [ii]
"Ships of Tarshish" is used as an expression denoting ships intended for a long voyage (Isaiah 23:1 and 23:14), or ships of a large size (sea-going ships), such as Solomon's ships (I Kings 10:22 and 22:49). [iii]
In fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, the second return of Jews to Israel has been taking place for over 120 years now. The only option for traversing the long journey initially was by ship, as air travel was yet to be established. Large, sea-going ships were used to transport refugees seeking to leave the persecution of their native lands and emigrate to Palestine. Many of these ships were intercepted by the British and the refugees were resettled to the island of Cyprus. The British Navy had setup a blockade around Palestine in the years preceding Israel’s declaration of Independence; after May 14, 1948, all restrictions on emigration were lifted. [iv]
If a ship did manage to escape the British blockade, it was presented with the destructive choice to run aground (purposefully shipwreck) in order to disembark its passengers as it would not be allowed to dock at the regular ports of Haifa, Ashdod, or Eilat. Verse 7 of this Psalm paints a visual of what would happen in this scenario. When looking at a map of Israel, an east wind would be blowing from the land out over the Mediterranean sea, creating a headwind for any ship who had escaped the blockade and was looking to beach the ship on the shore. Logic suggests that if there was a headwind in this situation that the ship would have to increase speed before reaching shore, thus causing more damage when the ship finally ran aground.
Since the start of Jewish emigration to Palestine in the late 1800’s, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem reports that more than “3.5 million Jews have immigrated to the Land of Israel from all over the world—from the north, south, east, and west—in literal fulfillment of God’s promises.” [v]
[i] “The Arab-Israeli War of 1948,” Office of the Historian, accessed December 24, 2021, https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/arab-israeli-war
[iii] “Tarshish,” BibleStudyTools, accessed December 24, 2021, https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/tarshish/
[iv] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Aliyah Bet.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/aliyah-bet. Accessed on December 24, 2021.
[v] “What Does The Bible Have To Say About The Return Of The Jewish People To Their Homeland,” International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, accessed December 24, 2021, https://icejusa.org/2018/04/09/what-does-the-bible-have-to-say-about-the-return-of-the-jewish-people-to-their-homeland/